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Friday, February 20th, 2009.  Before it snowed and before it turned so very cold, we had the kind of weekend that can give you Spring fever.  On Valentine's Day, we took the dogs for a hike, exploring a recently cut trail to the river behind our house.  Ben pulled a pair of binoculars out of his backpack and climbed down the river bank to get a better look.  After checking things out, he stepped into the river and started walking across it.   He made it about ten feet before the current became too strong and he decided that he should turn back.  The air was warm, the water was not.  On our way back, the boys discovered a giant hole and the accompanying mound of dirt.  They loved it.  They played king of the hill, jumped in it, rolled in it and got as dirty as two boys possibly can.          

   

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009. We actually saw a little snow this week.  Sure it only lasted for a few short hours, but we aren't ones to let it slip away without first making the most of it.  Ben LOVED sledding in the front yard, while Jackson took a ride down the biggest hill in town.  Ruby Sue continues to crack us up with her antics.   Because her track record has been perfect with the litter box, we've given her free reign at night.  Ben goes to bed first, so she often starts off with him, but typically splits time between the three beds, almost always sleeping under the covers with just her head sticking out.          

Sunday, February 15th, 2009. Ruby has now explored almost every corner of the house and pounced on every shadow.  Our other pets were already grown when the kids came along, so they are enjoying having a kitten around.  While playing with Ruby using a cat toy attached to a string, Ben laughed and said "This is even better than when Canaan burped during snack!"          

Saturday, February 14th, 2009.  Happy Valentine's Day!  With a morning of chocolates, roses, cards and gifts, followed by an afternoon of hiking on the river, it's been a great family day so far.  We are heading out now to Opie's Candy Store, but wanted to post an update on the new kitten so that you would know that her official name is Ruby Sue.          

Friday, February 13th, 2009.  Ben really needed the trash can, Jackson was just preparing for the worst.  After two miserable days, Ben finally recovered enough to get out of the house some this afternoon.  While running errands, he and his mother ran across something that caught their interest.  They returned later with Jackson and saw thisAfter getting a closer look and calling me to discuss the matter, they happily decided to do this.  She was named Lucy, but Jackson and Amy preferred Suzie.  For Ben though, the kitten is named Sue and there is no discussing it.  Currently, Amy, Ben and Sue are all sleeping cuddled up together.          

Sunday, February 8th, 2009.   We wrapped up our basketball season on Saturday with a hard fought loss to a really good team (photos by Deana).  The kids once again played fantastic and the score stayed close.  It was just one of those games where the ball seemed to bounce the wrong way.  I'm really proud of how hard they worked and how much they improved.  I'm also proud that we had at least two games, maybe more, where five of our players scored.  All but one player scored during the course of the season and they all got a chance to bring the ball down the court.  Jackson was pretty frustrated with the loss, but cheered up when his aunt Deana took him to get a movie and pizza.  Since this was Jackson's last game with an eight foot goal, we came home and raised the one in our driveway to ten feet.  Our soon-to-retire mailman and longtime friend, Tom S, stopped by with the day's delivery while I was working on the goal.  Jackson told him that he was witnessing a historic moment in his life.  We've had an eight foot goal for so long that it now seems sooooo high.  We went right into a one-on-one game and Jackson adjusted much faster than I did.  I'm kind of sad that I don't get to dunk anymore. 
Later in the evening, Jackson and I enjoyed watching Mall Cop at the cinema.  This morning, I met a paddling friend at our local play-spot to surf, flip, ender and squirt under a warm February sun.  (photos here)  Let me tell you though, it wasn't that warm under water.  I came home just in time for Amy to go to a Junior Woman's Club social.  When she came home, I took Jackson to a birthday party at the skate rink.  We shot a little basketball using the headlights from the van, then all ended our weekend together by watching Space Chimps.          

Thursday, February 5th, 2009.  When I play guitar, Baby Brett crawls over and starts singing.  He was sick earlier this week with a stomach bug, but was back at the house today.  Ben stayed home from school with a congested cough, but also because it's so darn cold today.  Brrrr.  Jackson ignored the cold and spent forty-five minutes dribbling a basketball in the driveway after he got off the bus.             

Monday, February 2nd, 2009.  Jackson received his second report card and again received straight As.  We are very proud of him.
Amy did a great job today of organizing a blood drive for the Junior Women's Club.  They were packed all day and unfortunately had to turn people away when it was time for the nurses to go home.  My dad helped by taking Ben with him this afternoon, while Deana picked up Jackson, took him shopping and to his Spanish class.             

Sunday, February 1st, 2009.  The first thing Ben does after getting out of the b*th is to make sure his hair is flat.  After pressing it down, he asks "Is it flat?"  Just a few minutes ago, while Amy was brushing his hair following today's b*th, he yelled "MOM!  I like it FLAT!!!  but on Wacky Wednesday, he wore a mohawk, different color socks and backwards clothes.  He thought it was terribly wacky and extremely funny.  That evening, Amy met friends for a fun girls night dinner at the country club.  On Tuesday she had a Junior Women's club meeting, while Jackson and I had basketball practice.  Thursday night I went to Martinsville to practice rolling my kayak with friends from my paddling club.  Following the roll session, I enjoyed a draft and paddling conversation at the bar around the corner that was once the Hong Kong.  That was a major blast from the past, since my friend Mike and I used to go there when he lived in Collinsville about fourteen or fifteen years ago.    Click here for a video of the roll session.  Friday night was family night, with dinner at Chili Rojo and Madagascar 2 at the Downtown Cinema.  Our last regular season basketball game was on Saturday and everything finally fell in to place for the team.  Every one played great and was involved with both the offense and defense.  Their shots fell and they made great, quick decisions.  We still lost, but it was against the best team in the league and the score stayed waaaay closer than I anticipated.  We were actually ahead for parts of the game.  I was super proud of the boys.  Afterwards, the other team's coach said that our team played a more complete game against them than any of the other teams they had played, which was nice of him to say.  And while I made the realization this year, that coaching is much harder than I thought it would be and that I'm probably not very good at it, the referee came over to tell me that I and one other coach were the two that did things the right way.  And again, that was nice to hear.  Later that evening we had the Eads over for a pre-Super Bowl party with lots of great Super Bowl dishes and games.  Being a life-long Steelers fan, I'm super excited about tonight's game.  Amy and Ben are visiting my grandmother, so it will just be the J-Man and myself in front of the tube.  Go Steelers!!!